Saturday 31 May 2014

Who is the child and who is the parent?

Had a beautiful time in Devon. However I wasn't inspired to write about the rural idyll, the babbling brook and the flower festivals, the village fete or the peaceful hilltop cemetery overlooking the Devon landscape.

For my entry for the Bridport Prize I felt able to capture the conflict one has when roles are reversed. Who is the child and who is the mother when the former cares for the latter?

Of course I refer to my elderly mother, post-stroke.
Mum is doing extremely well. She has begun to stand - using a support - and she has feeling back in her left arm. Now that her hair has been done and she's eating and drinking a normal diet she's much brighter, and looks it.Yesterday she was sitting out most of the day - reading a magazine. Today she wanted to know what was happening in the world of politics. I was able to give her part of the newspaper to read about the Lib Dems and their troubles.

She wanted me to be at home with her - to take care of her - along with Richard or my brother. She knows she'll need nursing care but she wants her family to be her nurses. Who is the child and who is the parent? It's not black and white - although I tried to capture the shifting roles on the page. Time will tell.

Friday 16 May 2014

Away in Devon

I am enjoying working on my novel. It's the development of my novella 'Coming of Age'. The minor characters in Eliza Augusta's life are having their own story told. We still see Eliza Augusta as the 'matriarch' and I hope the whole celebrates the talents of women who, for the most part, have to get along financially without men - or  a family life with children - in many cases. They find different ways of living. My novel will still span 1918 - 1978. In that way women's suffrage, (1918)  at the start of the novel, is balanced at the end with Mrs Thatcher's rise to become PM. Two important events which are good bookends for the work.

I know one or two agents at our Anthology Launch on Tuesday wondered if the novel was a saga . It's more a fictional study, based on interview and research, of women's independence through those years.

Speaking of independence - mum had a drink of tea yesterday. She can't hold the cup herself yet - well she needed to be sitting up for that - but it is progress. She may move to the rehabilitation community hospital next week. That's where the real physio starts. I do hope to see her sitting up - and more especially - in a wheelchair and dressed - so we can move her about. I think it would do her good to not feel she has to be bedridden. That would be great progress.

In Devon for a holiday so I will sign off from my blog for a couple of weeks. Let's hope the sun continues to shine!

Tuesday 6 May 2014

You can't push the river

It is interesting that I interviewed my mother about her memories, loves and hobbies only last year. Given her recent stroke it's a reminder that we can't always put things off until another day. Another day may not arrive. When I took down notes about her life history she was then eighty eight - and I garnered some rich material.
      I plan to develop my novella 'Coming of Age' and expand the stories of the minor characters. One of them is Vi, born in the nineteen twenties. The central character Eliza Augusta, will remain- it is her history. She gets the married-women's vote, aged thirty, in 1918. The novella follows her life through to 1978 when our first woman prime minister was elected. However there is much back story to be used - my mother's story, for instance, as ARP warden and switchboard operative, model and secretary.
     The character Maud can be developed too. In my story she will go on to become one of the few women bus conductresses and licensee of a chain of pubs. Other interviewees have professional jobs - from the 1950s onwards - and their story can be told. They all revolve the great master butcher - Eliza Augusta  - sister, aunt or great aunt to Vi and other minor characters.

     It is also good to know that my mother's story will not be lost. Tonight she was lying in her hospital bed, she had been sitting and was dressed. She still has the tube feed but her hair was brushed and she looked stronger. Tomorrow, we are told, she can start having real porridge.
     'Mum. You can have real porridge tomorrow. You like that don't you?'
     'Depends how they make it.'
     'Have you had these little puddings and drinks today?', I ask.
     'Don't like them.'

      Thank goodness for real porridge then! Maybe she'll make ninety after all. Maybe she'll gradually be able to eat again. You can't push the river.
       She's had a massive stroke but still knows what she wants and where she wants to go after hospital. But so glad I interviewed her last year - last week it looked as if I might have been too late to say anything to her of real worth.